I took the entire family to meet with forager, Brian Gannon, at the Silver Strand Beach in County Galway.
This somewhat secluded beach is easily accessible by car. It overlooks Galway Bay and is bounded by cliffs to north and rocks to the south. The shallow nature of the beach makes it a perfect location to forage for seaweed.
When we pulled up in our car Brian was already out on the beach with his dog scanning the area for seaweed.
We met Brian down on the beach and he immediately began to help me identify different seaweeds, pointing out morphological characteristics of each. I have never foraged for seaweed before and was surprised at how easy it was to identify seaweed compared to other land-based plants.
Brian is also a chef (although he won’t admit it himself) and to taste our way through the seaweed and later sea vegetables, pick up on the individual flavors, and brainstorm how to best make the most of these flavors was very helpful.
As we foraged we discussed the finer points of the seaweeds we collected. We talked about the uniqueness of what we were tasting and brainstormed techniques to use to capitalize on each, foods to pair them with, etc. We collected a variety of different seaweeds before making our way above the vegetation/sand line and began to forage for sea vegetables.
He showed me the pungent Sea Radish, and the unique sea sand wort that restaurants such as Noma have been using over the past few years. He helped me identify the familiar Sea Orache a close relative of the first plant I ever foraged over 30 years ago back in New Jersey, Lambs Quarters. We also collected sea spinach, sea purslane, sea aster, monksbeard, samphire (glasswort), arrow grass, sorrel and sea campion. At one point Brian drew my attention to the prehistoric stone fishing weir exposed at low tide in a back bay adjacent to where we were foraging. The entire time my youngest daughter, Alyssa was right there trying everything we picked! Most of the flavors were too strong for her raw, but she was having a blast.
For the next hour we tried some of the most succulent, flavorful plants that most people typically walk right over on their way to the sand to enjoy a day at the beach.
We loaded up into the car and set off to meet friends in Connemar on our way to Belderig for the rest of the weekend.